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British humanitarian aid worker killed in Kabul

Latest update : 2008-10-20

A British aid worker was shot dead in the Afghan capital as she walked to work, in a killing claimed by Islamic Taliban militia who accused her organisation of "preaching Christianity," according to the interior ministry and police.

A British aid worker was shot dead in the Afghan capital on Monday in a killing claimed by the Islamic Taliban militia which accused her organisation of "preaching Christianity."

The woman was shot several times by two men on a motorbike as she walked to work in the west of Kabul, the interior ministry and police told AFP.

It is rare that foreign nationals are killed in the city, although there have been several kidnappings. A nongovernment organisation security group said last week that attacks on aid workers by insurgents in Afghanistan were at the highest level in six years.

The British embassy in Kabul said the woman was British.

"We are confirming that we are dealing with the death of a British national," an embassy spokeswoman told AFP without giving details.

The interior ministry and police said earlier the woman was a South African working with an nongovernment organisation called SERVE Afghanistan, and there were some suggestions she had dual nationality.

A SERVE employee confirmed the incident to AFP but would not give any details. The group's management would not comment.

The group, which describes itself on its website as a British-based Christian charity, works with disabled Afghans. The interior ministry said the attackers had fled immediately and their motive was unclear.

"Two armed men sitting on a motorbike shot her dead. Some bullets hit her body and some hit her leg and when police got there she was dead," spokesman Zemarai Bashary said.

He said it was also not known if the attackers worked for the Taliban, an extremist Islamic militia that has carried out several similar assassinations in the southern city of Kandahar.

But a spokesman for the insurgent group, Zabihullah Mujahid, claimed his militia had carried out the killing.

"We killed her because she was working for an organisation which was preaching Christianity in Afghanistan," he told AFP by telephone.

There was no way to confirm this, with the Taliban sometimes claiming incidents with which they have not been involved.

There have been three assassinations of prominent Afghans in the southern city of Kandahar in recent weeks, also carried out by men on motorbikes.

The Taliban -- in government between 1996 and 2001 -- claimed responsibility for two of the killings involving the city's most senior policewoman and a government official.

The third was of a top tribal elder shot dead with his son, a former bodyguard of President Hamid Karzai, as they left a mosque early in the morning.

There had been 146 security incidents involving non-government organisations to September this year compared to 135 for the whole of 2007, the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO) said in a quarterly report.

They included 28 killings, among them five international workers, and 72 abductions, the group said.

Among the internationals were three Western women aid workers with the International Rescue Committee who were gunned down with their driver about 50 kilometres (30 miles) outside of Kabul in August.

The women were a British and Canadian citizen, a Canadian national and a Trinidad and American national.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the murders, the worst involving the foreign aid community in years.

Date created : 2008-10-20